Monday, September 21, 2009

The Dawn of a New World Order

At the NATUI-household, it is the dawn of a new world order. Take a close look because things are very different, my friends.

As we move towards autumn and begin the school year, there are major changes afoot. Our house may look like the same disaster zone, but there are two fundamental shifts in our lives that have occurred.

One of these shifts has been in the bedtime routine. We have had years of fighting to keep the kids in bed. I have detailed our difficulties to some extent, but I may have finally found the solution. Preying on their fear of the dark.

It has been an awful but steep learning curve. One night after being harassed and hounded by my children until three o'clock in the morning, I hit probably one of my lowest points since I became a mother. I had completely reached the end of my rope. Thus began Operation Don't Fuck With Mom.

I told my kids there was a new bedtime rule. Stories, prayers and kisses. Then? We're done. No more water, toys, books, hugs. Nothing. Keep your head on your pillow. If you get out of bed, I turn off your nightlight and shut you in your room. Alone. In your dark, dark room.

They didn't believe me.

LittleMan got up out of bed. I unplugged the lamp, walked out of the room and shut the door.

He absolutely flipped his shit.

Now, I did not lock him in his room and let him scream on the floor until he passed out. I did hold the door shut a good fifteen seconds or so (I know, I'm such a hard ass) before I opened it, put him back in his bed and told him that if he kept his head down, the door would stay open.

After several tests, both kids realized that I meant business.

As soon as we got back to DC, the kids thought they could fuck around at bedtime again. Apparently, they didn't realize that Operation Don't Fuck With Mom crosses state lines. Friday night was a big test the waters night. My son kept getting out of bed, so I took his lamp and shut the door. Same routine.* It took one or two incidents of 15-20 second screaming bloody murder behind a closed door, but he now believes that I am serious.

The upshot of all this is that both of my kids have been asleep by 8.30pm the past two nights. No flipping around in bed or running amok as they are wont to do, but actually unconscious. Dreaming sweet dreams of finger paints and playgrounds. Anyone who knows me in real life finds this to be absolutely incredible as my daughter has been known to keep herself awake until midnight. I don't know how long this will work, but I am hoping if I can finally create good sleep habits I will never have to go through this again. I hate it. It makes me sad. It hurts me. But it will hurt them more in the long run if I do not get a handle on their behaviour now.

Now, to be consistent. I've finally won a battle, and I am damned and determined to win the sleep war.

*Except come to find out a neighbor stopped by at precisly that moment, heard the screaming and decided to come back later. At least I got the opportunity to explain to him what was going on. And thank god he didn't call DFACS.


Irrational Dad said...

You, my lady, are a bad ass! I definitely agree with the get-them-in-check-now-or-face-the-consequences-later outlook. I hope it works out.

Patois42 said...

I can't tell you how much I laugh at "Apparently, they didn't realize that Operation Don't Fuck With Mom crosses state lines."

A Free Man said...

Well done. Kids require discipline. I just struggle to mete it out.